Plan calls for more spending on trails
A fully finished and fully paved Rivers Trail is one of the highlights of a set of plans calling for Kamloops to spend an extra $500,000 per year on its trails and pedestrian pathways.
Under the new pedestrian and trails master plans, Kamloops would spend $1.6 million each year on sidewalk and pathway construction, up from the current $1.1 million.
Mike Doll, the city’s parks planner, told council at a workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 23, that there’s a major demand from residents for more trails and better amenities on those that already exist.
According to an Ipsos Reid survey completed for the plan, nearly 50 per cent of city residents walk for exercise, with another 15 per cent hopping on bikes and 13 per cent running — and, Doll said, public consultation backed up those findings.
“In a nutshell, it was, ‘We like what we have, but please give us more’,” he said.
The plan includes a list of high- and lower-priority projects, with additions and improvements to the Rivers Trail at the top of the list, including improvements to the Tranquille Road segments of the pathway and a route from the city centre to Campbell Creek.
“The public have told us in no uncertain terms they want to see it finished. It is the spine of the trail network,” Doll said.
However, he admits the current plan isn’t without some controversial elements.
Attempts to pave sections of the trail in the past have met community resistance.
In Westsyde, residents near the Oak Hills dike portion of the Rivers Trail rallied against paving efforts in 2010, citing concerns about skateboarders and the effects of hot pavement on dogs. The trail remains unpaved in that area.
But, Doll said, full paving remains the city’s end goal.
“That’s always been the intention of the Rivers Trail, so that no matter your mode of transportation you’ll be accommodated,” he said, adding he’s also heard strong support for the plan.
“I had just as many people saying. ‘Why isn’t the Westsyde dike paved?’ as people saying, ‘Why would you pave it?’”
A full build-out of the trail system would cost about $17 million and Doll said it’s the single-biggest expense in the new plan.
The trails plan would also see the city start using provincial classifications for its trails — green circles on relatively easy routes, black diamonds on more difficult paths — and add more garbage cans, signage, benches and washrooms to trail routes where possible.
On the pedestrian side, the plan focuses on adding more sidewalks, pathways and pedestrian shoulders in the city.
Because there’s overlap between the two plans, as well as the city’s recently adopted bicycle master plan, transportation planner Erin Felker said staff have created a “shopping list” that includes those projects featured in more than one of the documents and have tried to spread the upgrades throughout the city.
The list includes space for pedestrians on Todd Road, a pedestrian overpass on Summit Drive and a bike path for Tranquille Road.
That last item had a few councillors concerned, however.
“When I’ve cycled out that way, I avoid Tranquille,” Coun. Nancy Bepple said.
“I feel much more comfortable on Fleetwood or one of the other streets and I think that maybe we want to look at not developing Tranquille as a bike corridor. We have the big semis going down the road. It’s a very busy street.”
However, Coun. Donovan Cavers said the road is already a bike corridor, whether council likes it or not.
“I know a lot of people that use that as a direct commuter path and most cyclists want a path that is as direct as possible, like most motorists,” he said.
If council agrees to the $1.6 million figure — which Felker said could mostly be funded primarily with gas tax cash, grants, development cost charges and gaming money — they could get through the high priority list in about 10 years.
Longboarders may get own skate park
Kamloops longboarders may get a skate park of their own as development of the West Highlands Park in Aberdeen moves ahead.
City parks planner Mike Doll said a large number of longboarders attended a open house asking for a space — and the city is looking at ways to include them in the park.
Doll said he’s looking at a training track installation at the moment, where boarders could practice going through turns and hone their skills.
However, he still has to determine whether there’s space in the park and enough cash to build something.
Design of work on West Highlands Park — formerly the Aberdeen Hills Golf Course — is expected to begin this winter.